Today’s Chronicle has a column by Peggy Fikac where she tells of more money bringing a kinder tone to this year’s legislature.
“They’ve stayed away from the issues that divided the last legislative session,” “Even Gov. Rick Perry didn’t find anything controversial to declare an emergency item.”
She quotes Senate Finance vice chair Juan Hinojosa who says “First of all we have money. More importantly, we have really stayed away from the divisive issues. I think the last election had consequences.”
Well, when a solid majority in the statehouse insists on living in an imaginary past, any current issue is “divisive.” Such issues include public health, infrastructure and education funding.
The legislature has ignored the pleas of city and county officials and hospital administrators across the state to join in a medicaid expansion that would bring ten billion dollars a year in federal money to provide affordable health coverage to the 25% of Texans without it.
With most of the state seeing another year of drought conditions, this legislature has yet to make a realistic effort to fund a state water plan that gets more expensive with every year of inaction.
They have failed to address a school funding crisis caused by the last session’s budget cuts, again leaving the issue in the hands of the Federal Court system, while school districts lay off staff and classrooms bulge.
The Lege also considered legislation to regulate payday and auto title lenders in Texas, who can charge 600% interest on small loans to broke and desperate Texans. The industry weighed in, spending $4 million to influence lawmakers and now the bill is so watered-down that even the sponsors won’t support it. Worse, the bill would nullify local laws passed by the city of San Antonio and others. As one lawmaker put it, the law as written now would legitimize usury in Texas.
So, all is groovy in Austin this session, and the legislature is doing a heck of a job, if you ask the right people.